How To Do Safari On A Budget

While safaris might seem like a luxury reserved for very special family holidays or Instagram influencers, our list of game reserves and national parks will make catching a glimpse of the Big Five a little more conceivable.

1. Shamwari Private Game Reserve, South Africa

If you want to see the Big Five within the first two hours of
your safari without spending thousands a night, Shamwari is your
go-to. Often overlooked for larger South African parks, such as
Kruger, this Eastern Cape locale offers multiple accommodation
levels to suit various budgets. The ground team organises several
daily game drives as well as afternoon tea, sundowners and outdoor
meals around the bonfire. In terms of affordability, the Explorer Camp will give you the best bang for your
buck. It is also the closest accommodation option to nature and
counts a plunge pool among its amenities.

2. Zambezi National Park, Zimbabwe

Bordered by the Victoria Falls and the Zambezi River, the
Zambezi National Park is one of Africa’s most spectacular safari
zones. When you’re not drooling over the falls, the Zambezi River
Game Drive’s network of paths branch off of the river and make for
great wildlife viewing (provided you know which path to venture
down). The animal population surrounding this river is huge: every
Big Five member is here, along with zebras, giraffes, impalas and
various other bush dwellers. The
Victoria Falls Safari Lodge
(or the Club, for those willing to pay slightly more)
is in the same price range as some of the most budget-friendly
options on our list, with rooms starting at less than £140 a night.
Booking at The Club, which has all of the amenities of the
highest-end luxury hotel such as a personalised butler service and
afternoon facials, start from around £215.

3. Kanha National Park, India

While African safaris, for the most part, have become
outrageously expensive, India’s parks are more feasible. Offering
incredible diversity – from scouting out tigers in Corbett National
Park to seeing snow leopards in the Ladakh region bordering the
Himalayas – a safari in India is no second-rate experience. Head to
Kanha – the area that inspired The Jungle Book – an expansive
reserve best known for its tigers and landscapes. Stay at Banjaar Tola, a safari lodge built onto the
banks of the Banjaar River (where Baloo drifted along with Mowgli
resting on his belly). The hotel offers candlelit dinners by the
river, spacious tents and five-star service for less than your
average New York boutique hotel per night. After a dip in the pool,
set out in a safari car to see the region’s famed tigers, as well
as elephants, monkeys and jackals, and stop for some riverside naan
on your return.

4. Mole National Park, Ghana

While Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa are probably the
first places that spring to mind when envisioning an African
safari, the Mole region in northern Ghana is a lesser-known spot
not to be overlooked. Zaina Lodge offers the nicest accommodation in
the area – touted as West Africa’s first luxury safari lodge. With
a thatched-roof main lodge, treetops adjacent infinity pool and
exploration options ranging from walking tours to eco-learning
safaris included, the lodge certainly packs a punch. See elephants
gathering by watering holes and antelope galloping across plains
for as little as £150 per night – relatively affordable when
compared to its East African counterparts.

5. Okavango Delta, Botswana

The Okavango Delta, formed by the meeting of the Okavango River
and the Kalahari Desert, is a totally unique area from an
ecological standpoint, making it one of the most interesting places
to go on safari. The region has its share of upmarket
accommodations, but there are also several lodges that have an luxe
feel but won’t leave you in the red. Tuskers Bush Camp is
one of the most affordable but feels high-end, thanks to candlelit
dinners hosted beneath acacia trees and exclusive, boutique
quarters (they only accommodate eight guests at a time). Set out
onto the river at sunrise or golden hour to scout out crocodiles
and hippos from your private riverboat. Alternatively, opt for a
classic driving safari to see the vibrant wildlife population of
the delta, including giraffes, lions, cheetahs, rhinos, zebras,
baboons and leopards.

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